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Chapter 10


Los Angeles, Summer 2003


“Tara, Tara,”what’s wrong,” Willow asked, hurrying after her down the hallway.

“Nothing,” Tara said. “I…I...just remembered there was something I had to do.

Willow laid a hand on her arm, halting her in his tracks. “This is about Arturo, isn’t it?” she murmured.

“What makes you think that?”

“Oh, I don’t know, maybe it was the way you ran out of that room like a scalded cat,” Willow said, dryly. “Listen, I know this Adam fellow has probably filled your head with all sorts of stories about other immortals, but Arturo’s okay. He wouldn’t harm a fly.”

Tara sighed. “Willow, don’t you think it was a little strange that he was so keen to know where Adam was?” he enquired.

“Not…not really,” Willow muttered.

Tara stared at her, and something clicked into place. “Willow, what did you do?”

“Nothing!” Willow insisted. “I mean, nothing bad. It’s just that Adam seems to have so much influence over you. I…I…wanted to know why, so I asked Arturo to check him out for me.”

“Let me get this straight,” Tara said, flatly. “You told Arturo that you were worried about me, and asked him to check Adam out for you.”

“Uhuh,” Willow said, nodding. “So you see, completely innocent, nothing to worry about.”

Willow, Arturo is an Immortal.”

“So? So are you.”

Tara took a deep breath, willing herself not to panic. “You’re not getting it, Willow. Arturo is an Immortal, Adam is an Immortal; you’ve just insisted that Arturo is a good friend. You’ve also told Arturo you were worried about Adam’s influence over me…and I’m guessing you used stronger language when you told him.”

Willow’s cheeks darkened. “Well, maybe a little,” she muttered.

Tara groaned. “Willow, you do realise that Arturo may have misinterpreted what you said?”

“What? No,” Willow said, realisation dawning. “Arturo wouldn’t do that.”

“Oh, wouldn’t he?” Tara said, worriedly. “Funny, I’m not so sure about that. Come on, we need to clear this up quickly - before it gets any worse.” she added, retracing her steps down the hallway.

“I still think you’re wrong,” Willow said, hurrying along beside her.

“Willow, even if I am wrong, have you ever considered how Adam would react if Arturo suddenly turned up, unannounced, on his doorstep?” Tara asked.

“He wouldn’t just attack him for ringing on his doorbell…would he?” Willow asked, doubtfully, as they neared the labs.”

“Do you want to take that chance—” Tara frowned, pausing mid-sentence as Willow opened the lab door, something wasn’t right…

“What’s wrong,” Willow asked.

“I don’t sense him,” Tara said, realisation striking.

“Sense him?” Willow asked, startled, as Tara raced across the room and threw open the door.

“Where is he?” she demanded.

Fred yelped, nearly dropping the scanner in her hand “Where’s who?”

“The Immortal ponce,” Spike said, understanding immediately. “He just left.”

Tara’s heart dropped, what if she was too late? “Where did he go?”

“Not sure luv,” he muttered, frowning. “He got a phone call just after you left, and said he had an errand to do.”

Hurriedly, Tara searched her pocket and pulled out her cell. “I’ve got to warn him,” she muttered.

Spike raised an eyebrow. “Warn who, luv?”

“Adam,” Tara said, putting the phone to ear.

“She thinks that Arturo is trying to kill Adam,” Willow supplied, disbelief showing in her voice.

“Yeah, sounds like something that prat would do,” Spike said, darkly.

Fred rolled her eyes. “Oh please, you’re just jealous because he’s dating Buffy.”

“Yeah, that’s it,” Spike drawled. “It’s got absolutely nothin’ to do with the two days I spent being tortured in his private dungeon.”

“What?” squeaked Willow. “You’re making that up.”

I wish,” Spike snarled. “If you don’t believe me, ask the puff when he gets back, he was there too. I wouldn’t mind, but do you know what he was up to while his flunkies were chaining us up? He was back in our lair shagging Darla and Dru, that’s what he was doing. Bloody unbelievable he is.”

“He’s not picking up,” Tara said, anxiously. “Why isn’t he picking up?”

“Don’t panic,” Willow said, breathlessly. “I’m sure there’s nothing to panic about. What did you do to annoy him?” she demanded, turning to Spike.

“We were on his turf,” Spike said, shrugging. “To him, that’s reason enough.”

Tara paled. “What would he do to another Immortal, Spike?” she asked, softly, as she listen to Adam’s phone ring, unanswered.

“Couldn’t say for sure, luv,” Spike said, frowning. “Until you showed up, I didn’t know that there were other immortals.”

“I’ve got to get to the hotel,” Tara said, coming to decision. “Head him off before somebody ends up dead.”

Willow frowned. “But Buffy and Kennedy—“

“You’ve got the Watchers council and all of this place looking for them, Willow,” Tara said, frustrated. “I think you can do without me for a few hours.”

“But you can’t go by yourself,” Willow protested. “You might get hurt.”

Tara gave Willow a long look. “Are you saying you want to come with me?”

Willow’s face fell. “I…I can’t leave, Tara,” she said, “I’ve got responsibilities.”

“So do I, Willow,” Tara said, sadly. “I can’t just sit here and hope for the best.”

“Right then,” Spike said. “I’ll come with you!” Willow and Fred threw him a look “What? Someone’s got to keep an eye on Glinda.”

“You’re a ghost, Spike, how exactly are you going to help?” Willow pointed out.

Spike shrugged. “I’m not exactly helping here, Red, am I?” he said. “Fred’s been poking at me with that thing for the last hour, and we still haven’t come up with any ideas. At least this way, I’ll be doing something, and not waiting for…” Spike trailed of, leaving Buffy’s name unsaid.

“Okay,” Tara said, taking a breath. “ We both go.”

“That’s the spirit,” said Spike, grinning. “Lead the way.”

“Tara?”

Tara looked at Willow, her heart breaking a little as she saw the expression on her face. “I’m sorry, Willow, I have to do this.”

Willow nodded resignedly. “Just make sure you come back,” she said, quietly. “I…I don’t think I could handle losing you again.”

Tara’s breath caught in her throat, recognising the expression on Willow’s face. Impulsively, she grabbed Willow’s hand and squeezed it. “I’m not going to disappear again, Willow,” she said, lowly. “I promise.”

Willow’s lip trembled. “You’d better not,” she muttered hoarsely. “Because this time I’ll come after you. Do you hear me?”

Tara smiled crookedly, and let her hand go. “Come on, Spike, time to leave. “



Paris, Spring of 2003

The first attack came two weeks after the slayer left for Sunnydale. If Adam hadn’t been there, there wouldn’t have needed to be a second.

Tara, get down.”

The glass splintered through the air and Tara dove for the floor as the cloaked figure threw himself through the window, landing on the table she’d been sitting at. “Where did it come from?” she gasped out, rolling back onto her feet.

“Damned if I know,” Adam muttered, pulling her behind him. “Have you taken a good look at its eyes?”

Tara nodded, her mouth drying. “It doesn’t seem to slow them down,” she muttered.

“You recognise it?”

“It looks like one of those things that attacked Lanny,” Tara admitted reluctantly, as it produced a wickedly sharp knife. “It’s called a Bringer.”

Adam threw a dark look over his shoulder. “You and I are going to have a long talk after this, kid.” Grasping his Ivanhoe with both hands, he eyed the advancing creature, as Tara hastily grabbed a poker from the fireplace. “Where the hell is your sword,” he muttered out of the corner of his mouth.

“It’s in the study.”

“Damn it, Tara, how many times do I have to tell you…”

“We’re in the kitchen, Adam, how was I to know that I’d need to wear it for dinner?”

“This is not the time for jokes.”

“I wasn’t joking!”

A stream of Latin burst out of Adam’s mouth, and the Bringer took it as its cue to attack.

Tara winced as she recognised some of the words coming out of his mouth as the cloaked figure leapt on him. “Sorry,” she called out.

“Sorry doesn’t cut it!” he bit out as he parried away the knife and sliced through the cloak. Blood spilled to the floor and the Bringer screamed, its voice echoing off the walls.

“Great, just great,” Adam snapped. “If the gendarmes end up on our door, you’ll be the one talking to them.” Grimly, he swung his sword and decapitated it, letting the eyeless head roll across the floor.

For a moment, silence reigned in the room and Adam bent over to catch his breath.

“Adam, I’m—"

. “I don’t want to hear it,” Adam said flatly, cutting her off. “Just get the garbage bags; we’ll need to do a body dump.”



Los Angeles, Summer of 2003

His mobile rang on the passenger seat and Methos glanced at it, his mouth twisting as Tara’s name flashed on the screen. Ignoring it, he pulled into the parking spot. All things considered, it was probably best to wait until he had Amanda at his side before they spoke again. Strange as it was, the two seemed to get on very well. It had surprised Methos at first, Amanda didn’t have many female friends; but after a while, he figured it out.

Tara reminded her of Rebecca.

Methos shook his head in amusement, and wondered why it took him so long to see it. The sense of honour, the quick intelligence, the flashes of mischievous humour, it was all so obvious… come to think of it, Duncan displayed all those traits as well.

It made you wonder about what went on in Amanda’s head…or his own, for that matter. Grimacing, he tucked the thought away, the last thing he needed right now was a quiet moment of introspection He had enough on his plate.

The mobile went silent, and Methos tucked it into his jeans pocket before shrugging out of his coat. Airport security frowned on those who carried a sword into the arrivals lounge; he sometimes missed the days when people were armed as a matter of course. It had been over a century since he’s been able to carry his sword openly. “Getting old, old man, ” he thought, ruefully, as he stepped out of the car and locked it behind him.

The terminal was alive with people and Methos peered over their heads to check the arrival times from New York. It looked like Amanda’s flight had landed. He made his way towards the gate, smiling as he felt the presence of another Immortal. He’d never thought he’d see the day he’d be relieved to see the wily old troublemaker.

“Adam Pierson?”

Methos stopped in his tracks, and slowly turned. “I don’t believe we’ve met,” he said coolly, as he eyed the dapperly dressed Immortal who’d appeared though the crowd.

“My name is Arturo De Longi,” he purred. “Perhaps you have heard of me?”

“Doesn’t ring a bell, sorry,” Methos said dryly. “Should it?”

The Immortal’s amiable expression faded. “I’m a friend of Ms Rosenberg. She wished for me to speak to you.”

“Ah, I see,” Methos said, recognising Willow’s surname. “Tell me, how did Willow know I’d be here.”

“To tell the truth, she didn’t,” Arturo said. “In fact, I’m as surprised to see you here, as you are to see me.”

Methos raised an eyebrow. “So, you’re what? Taking a little trip?”

“I’m here on a personal matter,” he said, stiffly. “It has just come to my attention that a certain old problem of mine has flown into town.”

“Does this problem have a name?” Methos asked, already uncomfortably sure he knew the answer.

“The foul wretch goes by the name of Amanda Darieux,” he said, flicking at his coat. “The woman had the temerity to oppose my wishes, in my own city, a few centuries back.”

“And you’ve been tracking her movement’s ever since?” Methos asked, surprised. “Obsessive compulsive much?”

Scowling, Arturo folded his arms. “I find it good practice to not let this kind of thing slide,” he said, flatly. “Unpleasant people should be dealt with unpleasantly, don’t you think?” he added meaningfully.

“Oh, I agree completely, ” Methos drawled, smirking as the insult sank in.

“I see what Ms Rosenberg means,” he said stiffly. “It is obvious your influence over your student could not be positive.”

“Ms Rosenberg doesn’t know what the hell she’s talking about,” Methos shot back. “And you can can the act; the false gentility is getting a little grating.”

Arturo’s eyes narrowed. “I can assure you, dear sir, this is no act.”

“And I can assure you, dear sir, that I’m fast running out of patience. My relationship with my student is none of your business, and I’d strongly suggest you give her a wide berth…and you can forget about Amanda too, while you’re at it.”

“I should have known that you’d be the kind to consort with that thief,” snorted Arturo, disdain dripping from his voice.

“Yes, yes, I’m an ill mannered serf. Now bugger off and leave me in peace before—” The presence of another Immortal impinged on his senses, and Methos sighed. “Why me?”

“Ah, it seems Ms Darieux is about to join us,” Arturo said, smugly.

“Adam? Is that you?” Amanda’s said, as she appeared through the throng. “Be a dear and…oh.”

“Oh? Is that all you have to say to me after all this time?” Arturo asked.

“What were you expecting, Arturo, a warm kiss?” Amanda snapped.

“How dare you, I gave you everything your heart could desire and you threw it back in my face!”

“What did you expect me to do, you practically kept me as your prisoner!”

“Prisoner? What the hell is going on here?” Methos asked.

“Do you mind? I’m trying to have a conversation with my wife.” Arturo snapped

“I am not your wife, you crazy fool, “Amanda stated, slipping behind Methos. “Adam, say something!”

Methos closed his eyes. “I can safely say I’m lost for words, Amanda,”

“Some husband you’ve turned out to be.”

Methos’s glared at her. “Amanda,” he said, warningly.

“Husband?” Arturo echoed. “You’re married to this man?”

“Why else would he be picking me up at the airport?”

“I was thinking the same thing myself,” muttered Methos.

“That’s it!” Arturo roared. “I demand satisfaction.”

Methos opened his mouth and Amanda pinched his arm, glaring at him; Methos glared back. “You don’t want to challenge me, Arturo,” he said, pulling his arm out of Amanda’s reach. “Trust me, it’s not worth it.”

“I beg to differ, Pierson,” Arturo snarled. “You have besmirched my honour, and now you shall pay. I shall see you on the roof of Wolfram and Hart tonight – and don’t skip town,” he added, turning to leave. “Remember, I know where your student is.”

Methos stared after the Immortal as he stalked out of the complex. “This had better be good, Amanda,” he said, rounding on her. “Or you and I are you going to have words.”

“You’re not going to like it, Methos,” Amanda said, soberly.

“Oh, I think it’s safe to say I’ve already figured that out.

TBC





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